tja Théâtre des Jeunes Années

National Drama Centre

The Biennial Theatre Festival for Young Audiences / Lyon was founded in 1977 by the artistic directors of the TJA, Maurice Yendt and Michel Dieuaide. The objectives of this international festival fit fully in the artistic prospects defined by the activity of creation of the TJA.

The “Théâtre des Jeunes Années (TJA)” witch benefited since 1981 from the “National Drama Centre” statute ceased its activities in June 2004. Today, Maurice Yendt and Michel Dieuaide follow their artistic work directing the Biennial Theatre Festival for Young Audiences / Lyon.

The Théâtre des Jeunes Années / National Drama Centre, theatre of art and experimentation, was simultaneously :
• a centre of theatrical creation and production (regular tours around France and abroad)
• a venue for regional, national and international theatre productions
• a practical theatrical experimentation and training centre for children, young people and adults (cultural mediators, teachers, academics, actors, etc…)
• a centre for research, publication and documentation concerning contemporary and youth theatre

The text below describes the theatrical conceptions of the TJA and the diversity of its achievements. After having been, in France, the first permanent theatre for young spectators, the TJA was, of 1981 to 2004 and at the international level, one of the principal European theatres for children and young audiences.

A contemporary theatre house



"The expression "theatre for children" has no meaning in aesthetic terms. In the same way as "popular theatre" illustrated by Jean Vilar, it describes an audience and not a different type of theatre. "Theatre for children" simply means a young audience looking at a theatrical production. It's as simple as that… and it is also extremely complicated since above all it means theatre…" (Maurice YENDT, Les Ravisseurs d’Enfants, Editions Actes Sud/Papiers 1989).

The TJA's artistic direction was based on Maurice Yendt's experience as a playwright, and on the search for original contemporary texts. Its repertoire therefore extended to include very diverse forms of work, texts deliberately written for young audiences as well as texts for which have not been expressly written with young audiences in mind. The TJA has created works by Jorge Gajardo, Victor Carvajal, Jacques Prévert, Richard Demarcy, Evan H. Rhodes, S. I. Witkiewicz, Akira Saneto, Samuel Beckett, Gert Hoffmann, Ingegerd Monthan, Barbro Lindgren, Clarice Lispector, Suzanne Van Lohuizen, Karin Serres, Peter Handke, Jacques Roubaud, Fabrice Melquiot......

Maurice Yendt and Michel Dieuaide regularly worked together with guest directors, (Bruno Castan, Alain Sergent, Richard Demarcy, Alessandro Libertini, José Caldas, Etienne Pommeret, Véronique Nah, Laurent Fréchuret, Dominique Pompougnac, Patrice Douchet... ), and co-produced creations with other national drama centres and independent theatre companies.
As a contemporary theatre house, the TJA had set itself the objective of developing children's artistic awareness, their openness to the world and to artistic languages, their initiation, as young as possible, to the plurality of forms and contents of contemporary theatre, their access to an essential critical liberty and to a personal theatrical culture.

A theatre for
new theatre-goers





The TJA has given full legitimacy to the idea of a cultural public service, seeking to encourage children and young people from all walks of life as well as audiences from all cultural backgrounds, notably through a specific pricing policy.
The TJA was also a school for theatre-goers, making these new theatre-goers aware and coaching them, with the potential to irrigate all theatrical and cultural life in the Lyon region. These objectives have contributed to maintaining the theatre's social and artistic influence and to increasing the number of informed theatre-goers, thus implying the continuity of its actions and its role in the long term.
Every year, the TJA was providing the "first theatrical experience" for several thousand children. The TJA's activity concerned an average of between 50,000 and 85,000 people, according to the season.
A theatre such as the TJA did not only interest children, but also interested a wide adult audience (parents, teachers, co-ordinators, etc). The TJA's audience spans the generations and was constantly being renewed.
In 1999-2000, 45% of shows were scheduled in leisure time, as matinee and evening performances.
Every year the TJA reached out to even greater audiences through tours of Maurice Yendt and Michel Dieuaide's shows throughout the whole of France (main decentralised theatres) and in many foreign countries (Germany, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Spain, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, U.S.A.).

A theatre
in the town




The TJA was one of the main theatre of the City of Lyon. Its facilities included a theatre with two auditoriums (one of 450 seats with modular shape and capacity, one with 90 seats), rehearsal rooms, administrative and technical areas.
The artistic team comprises 18 permanent employees who were joined every season by 15 to 25 non-permanent actors and by a variable number of artistic and technical colleagues.

A training area




The TJA/National Drama Centre was involved in many artistic education and theatrical training activities in partnership with primary and secondary school establishments and various institutions and associations. These activities were either part of an institutional framework (twinning, practical artistic workshops, school projects, cultural classes, teacher training, …) or according to specific projects. These actions, tailored to the requirements of the various audiences, involved all theatrical practices (coaching and expression of theatre-goers, active discovering of drama and theatrical play).